A medical worker prepares to collect samples from individuals who signed up for "drive-through testing" for the coronavirus at a Penn Medicine site in West Philadelphia on Tuesday, March 17, 2020. Penn, Jefferson and other area hospital systems have set up drive-through stations to swab for samples that can be tested for the coronavirus. (Tim Tai/The Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS)

The first two deaths in Tuolumne County from COVID-19 were announced by the public health department in a news release Monday afternoon.

Both of the victims were men, one in his 60s with no known underlying health conditions and one in his 80s with some underlying health conditions.

“We want to share our heartfelt condolences with the families and loved ones in this difficult time,” said Dr. Liza Ortiz, interim Tuolumne County health officer. “These deaths are a sobering reminder of the severity of COVID-19. Our actions affect the lives of those around us and our whole community. Tuolumne County must act to slow the rate of transmission and protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our community.”

No other information was provided about the victims or the circumstances surrounding their deaths due to medical privacy laws, according to the department’s new release.

The deaths come more than four months since Gov. Gavin Newsom issued the nation’s first statewide stay-at-home order in California on March 19 and a little over two months since the state and county began to gradually reopen in mid-May.

Calaveras County that neighbors Tuolumne County to the north reported its first death from the disease one week earlier on July 20.

In addition to the two deaths, the Tuolumne County Public Health Department stated it identified five new coronavirus cases over the weekend that included one on Saturday, two on Sunday and two on Monday.

Three people who tested positive for the virus were being treated at Adventist Health Sonora as of Monday afternoon, including one of the five who tested positive between Saturday and Monday.

One of the four people who were in the hospital on Friday was released over the weekend and was isolating at home, the department stated. 

There had been a total of 131 cases in the county since the pandemic began as of Monday, which was 58 more than exactly two weeks earlier on July 13. 

The county must stay below 53 new cases over a two-week period to stay off the state’s monitoring list that would require it to shut down additional types of businesses and activities, including gyms, hair and nail salons, indoor church services, weddings and funerals.

Contact Alex MacLean at or (209) 768-5175.

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